We need to look beyond teaching to find the true measure of learning

Data accumulated for over 15 years has led us to find individual teachers and teaching teams that have broken through, enough of them to require us to say, we will no longer accept lower standards.  Educational research has come to the place where it can begin to give us the answers we have needed and it can no longer be dismissed that ‘you can find whatever conclusions you want in the research,’  dismissing all the good that has been honestly accomplished. 

There are enough people, with enough understanding, who know how to read deeper into these studies to examine the underlying methodology, so that we are no longer so vulnerable to poor research standards (Marzano, 2002).  There is an incredible amount of work that still needs to be done, but we can at least say the work has begun. 

Teacher evaluation has also been advanced.  We should no longer be looking for the teacher who designs lovely lessons and delivers them in proper fashion, the picture of a good teacher, but with no real gains.  We must look for learning.  We are understanding that teachers need to be very close to their children, noticing every detail of their work, having high expectations and formative assessments driving instructional decision-making, requiring twice the work if that is what it takes, but never, ever pity.  We learn from our students.  They teach us what we need to teach them.  

This quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is very telling.   “If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.”  The following principles guide Renaissance Schools.

•  The human mind has no limits except those in which we choose to believe.

•  Humans are makers of meaning and knowledge is constructed, both consciously and unconsciously, from experience.

•  All people at all ages continue to develop intellectually.

•  All members of the school community are continual and active learners.

•  Leadership is the mediation of both the individual’s and the organization’s capacity for self-renewal.  (Costa, Garmston, p.27)